Workflow Application – Comprehensive Playbook [2020 Edition]

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The right workflow application can have a significant impact on your business:

  • It can improve the time-to-completion for specific workflows
  • It can reduce redundancies and the likelihood for mistakes
  • Automate boring tasks, allowing your employees to focus on the work that matters

And that’s just the start!

But what IS a workflow application?

In the buzzword-packed world of workflows and process management, the answer can be confusing to find.

So, we created this guide to teach you everything you need to know about workflow applications!

What is a Workflow Application?

A workflow application is a software that partially automates any given business process.

When people refer to workflow apps, they either mean an app created with a specific workflow in mind, (e.g. software for employee onboarding) on a BPM platform, or workflow management software (that lets you create workflows without too much hassle).

See, back in the day, workflow management was a LOT more complicated. You had to pick a BPM suite (which cost 6-figs just to set up), and onboard your dev team to use it to create workflow applications.

In 2020, though, the latter is a lot more common.

You just pick a workflow application like Blissfully, pick a workflow you want to automate, and you’re good to go! No needless expenses (or coding) required.

Workflow Gallery 2020 Screenshot

We’re going to teach you how, exactly, you can use workflow software a bit down the line. But first, let’s talk more about the use-cases for workflow applications.

How Workflow Applications Work

More often than not, businesses use workflow applications for its automation capabilities, which are twofold:

Automating process execution. The software keeps track of the process and ensures that it gets executed till the end.

Task automation. Tasks like sending an automated email, transferring data from a form to a database, pinging a certain employee with specific information, all this can be automated.

To give you a better idea of how this works in real life, let’s cover a very common workflow automation example – employee onboarding.

Let’s say that your onboarding process is as follows:

  • Once the employee is hired, the HR gives them a bunch of paperwork to fill in
  • HR manager fills in the candidate’s data on their HR platform
  • HR manager notifies someone from IT to prepare the new hire’s workstation
  • Once the IT is done with that, they create relevant accounts for the new hire
  • …And so on

Now, if you’re using a workflow application, here’s what this process can turn into:

  • Once the new employee is hired, they fill in their personal information on a form generated by the workflow app
  • The information is automatically transferred to the HR platform (no need for manual data entry)
  • IT automatically gets a notification to prepare the new hire’s workplace with a set deadline
  • Once IT is done with the task, they automatically get a follow-up task to create relevant accounts for the new hire with a set deadline
  • The new employee and relevant managers are automatically notified of task/process completion.

See the difference? Without the workflow app, someone might forget a step, for example, and mess up the entire onboarding. At the same time, it also involves some grunt work (filling in paperwork), which no one really likes.

With a workflow app, however, the software enforces that all tasks are completed on time with a pre-set deadline, making it hard to mess up the process. At the same time, it eliminates redundant work, allowing your employees to focus on the more important work.

3 Workflow Application Examples

Now, you might be wondering, what kind of processes can you automate with a workflow application?

Some of the most common ones are:

  • HR Processes
  • Finance Processes
  • Other Processes. E.g. marketing, support, etc.

Now, let’s explain all of them one by one…

#1. HR Processes

A lot of HR processes are very systematic and bureaucratic. So, what that means is, you can automate a good chunk of them using workflow applications.

Some HR processes you can automate include:

Applicant Tracking – You can use a workflow app to track all your applicants from start to finish. Whenever a candidate sends you an application, a workflow is kicked off to vet the potential hire and if relevant, get them to attend an interview.

Employee Onboarding – According to research done by the Brandon Hall Group, a well-structured employee onboarding process can improve new hire retention by up to 82%.

So, it’s not that surprising that employee onboarding is one of the best use-cases for a workflow app.

Attendance Management – You can use a workflow application to track employee attendance. The employee, whenever he/she shows up at work, logs on the workflow app and checks in. The software then automatically gives the management a calendar view of everyone’s attendance and absences.

Employee Offboarding – Offboarding is just as important as onboarding. The use-case here is the same as the example we gave above for onboarding. The workflow app makes sure that your employees don’t miss any essential steps.

Leave Management Approvals – Leave management, without workflow software, can be extremely hectic. It usually involves a ton of back-and-forth emails between your employees, the HR, and their team lead.

Using a workflow app can streamline the entire process. All the employees will have to do is log on, enter a form, and the software will make sure that the route the form through HR, management, and the supervisor for approval.

#2. Finance Processes

As with HR, there are a ton of bureaucratic processes in finance. Some of which include…

Budget Approvals – For simple approvals, your finance team has to chase down specific employees to get more information about the expense. For more complex approvals, you have several departments working together, which can get a lot more hectic.

With the right workflow application, you can make budget approval as simple as 1-2-3. The employee fills in the relevant form, and the software routes it to all the relevant people, whether it’s finance or management.

Purchase Orders – The usual purchase order workflow includes…

  • Purchase order is created
  • Purchase order is verified by the relevant parties
  • Purchase order is sent to the vendor
  • The vendor delivers the goods
  • The buyer performs three-way matching between the purchase request, purchase order, and the invoice
  • If the three documents match, the purchase order is closed

And, as you probably already figured, this requires a lot of back-and-forth between several employees. If you’re using the right workflow app, though, the process becomes much easier.

The workflow application routes all the tasks, and when doing the three-way matching, the software presents all the information in one place.

Vendor Approval – If your employees need a new tool, chances are, they need it now, and not in 3-4 weeks.

So, it’s important for your vendor approvals to be as efficient as possible. As with the other approval processes we’ve covered so far, a workflow app can streamline this process too.

#3. Other Processes

Some other processes that work best with a workflow app include…

Content Marketing Process – The content marketing process is a lot more complex than you’d think. Usually, it involves cooperation between several team members…

  • SEO specialist picks a keyword they want to rank for
  • Writer creates an article based on the keyword
  • Editor polishes it up
  • Graphic designer creates relevant images for the article
  • Writer uploads the article to the CMS
  • Outreach specialist promotes the article

And oftentimes, if you’re working on several articles at the same time, someone’s bound to miss a step or two and derail your content calendar.

Using a workflow application ensures that everyone’s on top of their tasks and deadlines, as the software routes the process to completion.

Client Onboarding – Onboarding is, usually, how you kickoff the work with a new client. So, it’s important for it to be as streamlined as possible.

As with the employee onboarding process, you can use a workflow app to execute this process with precision every single time.

How to Use a Workflow Application

So, the million-dollar question – how do you get started?

It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think.

First things first, you’re going to need to pick a workflow application. We might be a bit biased, but we’d recommend going with Blissfully. You can request a demo and see how it works here.

Then, you can create your workflow from scratch…

Onboarding Workflow Template

Or, you can pick one of our X+ templates and customize those.

Just head over to the workflow gallery:

Dashboard screenshot

Dashboard with arrow to workflow gallery screenshot

And pick a template.

You can either stick with the template for testing purposes, or you can customize it to fit your existing process.

Edit workflow screenshot

Once you’re done with that, you’ll need to get your team onboard the software. [explain how to do this]

And voila, you’re good to go! All your employees have to do is launch any given process, and Blissfully will take care of the rest.

Conclusion

Simpler than you’d think, right? All the corporate buzzwords aside, workflow applications are actually super simple, once you’ve got the hang of them.

Now, to make sure you got all the key points, let’s do a small recap:

A workflow application is a software that helps you automate business processes.
There are a ton of potential use-cases for workflow apps, including employee on/offboarding, budget approvals, leave management, and more.
Getting started with a workflow app is relatively straightforward – all you need to do is sign up for the right software, pick a workflow template, customize it, and you’re good to go!

Want to learn more about workflow & process management? Make sure to follow our blog for the best guides & articles!